Milling & Grains bite-size science

EU pesticide regs, glyphosate overuse, soil quality

By Nicola Cottam

- Last updated on GMT

EU legislation on pesticide use will hit farmers in Ireland, claim researchers
EU legislation on pesticide use will hit farmers in Ireland, claim researchers

Related tags: Agriculture

EU regulations hit Irish cereal farmers, glyphosate overuse has increased resistance, and insight on predicting soil quality degradation.

EU legislation could impact cereal production in Ireland

European Community (EC) legislation will significantly impact pesticide availability in Ireland in the medium to long-term, while regulations associated with water quality will restrict pesticide use in the immediate future, a report claims.

The review, published in ‘Pest Management Science’,​ outlines the potential impact of legislative changes on the availability of pesticides and the overall implications for cereal production in the region.

The EC strategy aims to promote the sustainable use of pesticides in agriculture within the member states while ensuring the health of the public and the environment, amid increasing health concerns and mounting economic costs associated with removing pesticides from water.

But, the researchers argue that while the agricultural area of Northern Ireland accounts for less than 5% of land usage, the application of pesticides to arable crops accounts for 69% of the total treated area and legislation limiting its use could affect crop production and increase pesticide resistance.

They add that Irish cereal production relies heavily on pesticides and changes in the legislation that control its usage may directly or indirectly affect the profitability and sustainability of production systems.

Source: Pest Management Science
DOI: 10.1002/ps.3801
‘European Union policy on pesticides: implications for agriculture in Ireland’​ 
Authors: Stephen Jess, Steven Kildea, Aidan Moody, Gordon Rennick, Archie K Murchie, Louise R Cooke

Implications of glyphosate overuse

Crop farmers in the US and Canada are too reliant on herbicides for weed management and need to adopt a broader range of techniques to curb the spread of herbicide resistant weeds, according to a team of US scientists.

In their report ‘Integrated Pest Management and Weed Management’, ​the researchers explain that while numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of integrated weed management (IWM) practises to control weeds, they are rarely implemented in North America.

IWM programmes can delay the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds and mitigate the effects of resistant populations. However, growers are too dependent on herbicides containing glyphosate which has propagated weed resistance in agriculture - especially since the development of glyphosate-resistant GM crops, they wrote.

In addition, there is widespread complacency when it comes to introducing complex management systems, despite the fact that reliance on ‘simple’​ systems and herbicides is not sustainable.

“The relief provided by different herbicide use practices is generally short-lived at best. More diversity of tactics for weed management must be incorporated in crop systems,” ​they said.

Source: Pest Management Science
DOI: 10.1002/ps.3928
‘Integrated Pest Management and Weed Management’
Authors: Micheal D K Owen, Hugh J Beckie, Julia Y Leeson, Jason K Norsworthy, Larry E Steckel

Early warning indicators to climate change

Scientists at the University of Reggio Calabria in Italy have identified three biochemical markers that could act as early warning indicators of rapid soil quality degradation, resulting from environmental or climatic conditions.

The use of specific and appropriate indicators is useful to predict the dynamic behavior of soil processes and the impact of management practices and/or climate in the short-term, they said in their report published in ‘Ecological Indicators’​.

Researchers conducted chemical and biochemical analyzes in four agricultural and forestry soil environments subject to different external threats and soil properties.

Results suggest that microbial biomass (MBC), water soluble phenols (WSP) and fluorescein diacetate hydrolase (FDA) are effective tools in the evaluation of soil quality and in understanding soil performance in the short term.

The scientists noted that MBC is sensitive to changes in abiotic stress, WSP reflects alterations in organic composition and FDA displays modifications caused by the climate.

Source: Ecological IndicatorsDOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.09.017‘Early warning indicators of changes in soil ecosystem functioning’​Authors: A. Muscolo​, G. Settineri​, E. Attinà

Related topics: Milling & Grains

Related news

Show more

1 comment

GM concerns?

Posted by Mark,

Consumer concern regarding GM crops is largely misplaced. There should be a shift in focus from human health to environmental impact.

Report abuse